So, I’m getting stuck in my current story. Like…REALLY stuck. I’m starting to envy co-authors and their writing process, because sometimes, it is just immensely helpful having two heads corroborating on a story. I’m personally strong in writing character-driven stories. I love character-driven stories, so it is natural that I’d focus most on my characters when writing. This can be great. It can also be BAD. I’m not the best when it comes to plot–especially when that plot becomes very complex and full of subplots. My husband, however, is brilliant at that kind of thing.

Last night, while we were out at a restaurant sharing dessert, we talked through some of my story issues. He knows exactly how to ask the right questions to make me go, “Hmmm…”

“What motivates that character?”

“Why would that character decide to do this when it is obvious they should do that?”

“That doesn’t make any sense, why don’t you do it this way?”

“Bad guys are bad. Kill them! Good guys good. Save them! Really? We can do better than that…”

Now, my husband is an AMAZING, brilliant, computer programmer guy. He works with systems all day and complex logic-type issues at work. He’s great at pointing out plot holes and areas where stories are weak. This is FANTASTIC for me. I’m not always great at seeing those sorts of things. I mean, c’mon, folks…I loved the Avatar movie, which is pretty much Space-Pocahontas, right? Yeah. Like I said, I sometimes need some outside help when it comes to crafting and appreciating deep, complex plot intricacies.

He has challenged me to really flesh out those ideas BEFORE I finish my first draft. He’s absolutely right. I need to figure out why the villain is doing what he’s doing. I need to figure out why Character B wants to help Character A. Motivations, motivations, motivations. Now, those things may seem like they’re wholly character-oriented, correct? WRONG. Motivations affect the plot, because they affect the choices (actions) made (progression). I sense a future of sitting in my living room floor with a giant whiteboard and marker. #idontthinkthiswhiteboardisbigenough…

What problems do you have in your own writing? Any areas where you are particularly weak? What are you doing to help make those areas stronger? Ever bring in any outside help? 

It’s Handy Having a Systems Specialist as a Husband
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  • Kelli

    Fun post! 🙂

  • Kelli

    Aren’t husbands the best??

  • CC

    Going back and looking at motivation is a tick I learned back when I used to do theatre, and it always helps me when I’m having writers block. I scrapped the manuscript of my first novel so I could rewrite the whole thing after I sat down and wrote out backgrounds for my characters, which also helped me figure out their motivation.

  • I loved the Avatar movie, but, afterwards, I couldn’t help but think that the earth forces would have had more success if they had just nuked the tree from orbit, rather than conducting an aerial assault….

    • Yeah, I loved it, too! I agree, though, there were better ways to go attacking that big a** tree…

  • PS – beware of making plot lines TOO logical. You readers will easily predict the outcome. Always keep a surprise or two in hand. Do something unexpected. Kill off a good guy. (Star Wars) Have a bad guy win. (Empire Strikes Back) Have the bad guy turn good. (Return of the Jedi)

    Hmm. I wrote the rules before I thought of the examples. Hmm.

  • Great post!

    I’m seriously considering getting myself a husband after reading this.
    🙂

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